America,  Chile,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Valparaíso (Chile): una ciudad muy linda

For the last few days, the word lindo(a) has been coming up often, as we only visit the cities that are too cute . We are in Valparaíso, only 8.5km from Viña del Mar, the city of 42 hills, with its famous graffiti and small streets

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

Day 1 :

After saying goodbye to our neighbors (to whom we got a bit attached especially after the New Year’s Eve party) in Viña del Mar, we take a bus to Valparaíso. Because of a misunderstanding with the bus driver, he drops us at the bus terminal and not the cathedral of Valparaíso. So we have to take a second bus to go to the cathedral and go up the steps to our hostel

It’s a real labyrinth, we have trouble finding our hostel, the Casa Azul. I notice a house painted in blue and think that it’s probably this one, but how to reach it? I notice someone going out on the terrace of the house and ask him. In fact, we had passed in front of it, but the entrance had only the number, no street name or the name of the hostel

It will be the most sophisticated hostel we have ever seen. There are 6 beds in the room, 2 columns of 3 bunk beds. Each bed has its own light, curtain, electrical outlet and storage space + a huge locker in the room. It is small but well equipped

We leave to explore the city and its famous Cerro Conception by taking theReina Victoria elevator. The ascent lasts only 15 seconds, for 100$CH

The streets are really too beautiful

The view on the port

The view on the other hills

The restaurant where we stopped to eat is very nice too. On Monday, there aren’t many stores open (it must be said that we are on January 2nd), some restaurants near the funiculars are open, but they are very expensive

I have read that the horseflaps came from the old “containers” (I put in quotes because it was a kind of container). They are recycled to insulate the houses here. The paints would come from boat paint, hence the bright colors (to give more visibility to the boats). Now, the paint is no longer that of the boats, but the tradition of “screaming colors” has remained. The port of Valparaíso had its hour of glory in the 19th century because it was an obligatory passage for Europeans participating in the gold rush. It was very busy until the construction of the Panama Canal. Now, the export of Chilean fruit is boosting Valparaíso again, but it will never be the same as before

A big wind starts to sweep the city, we decide to go back home to rest quietly on the terrace when suddenly, a big smoke appears from nowhere

To transform in a few minutes to this

From the beach of Viña del Mar, you can see the fire of Valparaíso (photo found on Twitter)

In the south of the city, as almost every year, there is a big fire in the Parque Laguna Verde, a poor neighborhood on the top of the hills. The electricity was cut off in our area for 1 hour, but no alarm was triggered. We follow the news closely, because the zone is only 5km away from us and with a monstrous wind like today, you never know… 2 hours later, the fire is under control. The result of the fire: 19 injured and destruction of 100 of the 500 houses in the area

Day 2 :

This morning, JB is doing his daily jog while I play with the cat of the inn. If we allow ourselves to be idle like that, it’s because we decided to take a walking tour in French in the afternoon

A late lunch at Empanadas famosas (they were really good and as big as my head), and here we are at 3:30 pm in front of the statue of the Plaza Sotomayor, the meeting point. Jonathan, creator of Valp’Otop Toursa Swiss-Chilean, welcomes us with a smile. The principle is simple: it is a guided walking tour, in French, based only on tips. There are tips every day, those who want to participate come here at 3:30 pm, and at the end of the tour (3 hours later), if they liked the tour, they can give what they want to the guide. Even if we are finally only two “customers”, Jonathan still brings us to do the tour, we can see that he does it more for passion than for money. With some small surprises very very appreciated (hint: we will be able to take the same transport as the locals)

The 3 hours go by very quickly because it’s so interesting. One is entitled to many explanations on the graffiti which cover the city, the local addresses not to be missed, breathtaking watchtowers, zones a little less touristic but which are worth the blow. He will also speak to us without the political and dictatorship language, which we would probably not have had with other more politically correct guides. In short, JB, who is already 100% conquered by Valparaiso, finds here new arguments for wanting to stay here for at least a month

We learn by discussing with him that if the bus drivers are so nice to us (they often stop to ask where we are going), it is because they also get a part of the revenue, so it was not completely disinterested! The garbage truck doesn’t always pass at the top of the hills, so we often see the children running down the hill to take the garbage down

We pass in front of several graffiti and buildings that we completely missed the day before. The city is a true labyrinth, it really needs a guide to discover the best corners

At the end of the tour, we are so happy to come across a French restaurant run by Christophe. The restaurant is called La Cantine, next to the open air museum. We ask him if he has a tartar on the menu. The answer is positive. However, it is January 3rd, its stocks are exhausted and the suppliers have not yet recovered from the new year’s eve party so the restaurant will be closed today. He told us about his concept of a small French country house in Valparaiso and it seduces us 100%. In a few months, the bakery annexed to this restaurant will be open, with a garden area and a swimming pool for the more motivated

On Jonathan’s advice, we test a typical Chilean dish created here in Valparaiso: chorrillana, for the afterbirths of cooking. JB has the good idea to take an individual portion for two…. we will eat only half of it

… because it’s very filling! and quite fat

So, in spite of our great love, it is already time to come back to Santiago. Goodbye Valparaíso!

Part 2: Practical Tips

How to get there

Valparaíso is only an hour and a half by bus from Santiago, there are buses leaving every 15 minutes from the bus terminal, for 4000$CH/person

From Viña del Mar you can take either the metro or the bus


  • Bus Viña del Mar -> Valparaíso : 460$CH/person
  • Funicular: 100 to 300$CH/person
  • 8000$CH/bed/person at La Casa Azul Hostal, which we highly recommend!
  • about 5000$CH/person the 3H tour with Valp’Otop Tours (in reality, we give what we want, but 5000$CH/person is the average).
  • Restaurants

    • at the top of the hills, next to the funiculars: 20000$CH for two
    • down the hills, in the bui bui: 4000$CH to 7000$CH for two
    • juices : 1000$CH/glass


  • There aren’t many garbage cans on the top of the hills, keep your garbage on you
  • Some buses and cabs serve the hills but the easiest way is to take the funiculars (which even the locals take daily)
  • It’s better to eat at the bottom of the hills, it’s 4 times cheaper
  • If you want to spend the new year in Valparaíso, book well in advance. It is better to be at the top of the hills(cerro) to see the fireworks and not at the bottom, in front of the port where there is a concert, but you will not see the fireworks so well.
  • The locals will tell you to stay around Cerro Conception and Alegre and not venture too far west. The Bellavista hill (where we were) is residential, safe and less touristic. I also recommend it.

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